Jude 3 – contend earnestly for the faith which was once-for-all delivered to the saints
[Lk 22:19-20]; 1Cor 11:23-26 – remember Yeshua and His death until He comes again
The heart and foundation of the gospel and of the New Testament and of our faith as Christians is Yeshua the Messiah and Him crucified, risen from the dead, ascended to glory, and coming again. Our sins are forgiven through faith in the once-for-all sacrificial and atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. We have fellowship (communion) with God our Father and with His Son, and with one another through the Holy Spirit indwelling all who are born again by the Word and the Spirit of God.
Does this sound like the religious teaching of Judaism? Does it sound like the wisdom of the world’s great thinkers and philosophers? NO! For the cross is an offence to the one born with natural honor and privilege before God, such as to the Jews being the chosen people, and a rock of stumbling to our fleshly pride and ambitions. For the wise of this world, the cross – the means of a sure and shameful death for the transgressor – is foolishness, simplistic. Yet for the one who believes, whether Jew or Gentile, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is the power of God unto salvation!
The gospel breaks down the wall of hostility between God and mankind, and also between Jews and gentiles, men and women, free and slave – in such a new way that it was a mystery known only to God until He revealed it in His own time to the Apostle Paul, in particular, who then made it known to the gentiles (nations), to kings, and to the children of Israel.
From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, the LORD God promised a Deliverer – a Savior – from the devil and evil to humankind through the Seed of the woman. We learn in Romans how this deliverance extends to the whole creation. To Abram the gospel was preached in that God told him that through him all the families of the earth shall be blessed. It is faith such as Abraham showed which characterizes the faith of the true Messianic: he believed the LORD; he believed what God said; he believed and trusted in the LORD that God Almighty could and would fulfill His promises, even if He had to raise the dead to do it! The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is the living God of the living, the God whose power raises the dead to life eternal! The Creator of the heavens and the earth is the one God of both the Jews and the Gentiles!
Is this what Judaism or any other of the world’s religions teaches? Yet it is this good news and covenant of grace through repentance and faith in God which Yeshua came to bring and to fulfill. He came to fulfill all that is written in the Law and the Prophets; He came to fulfill the word of God His Father – not the words or interpretations of anyone else. The Jews and the nation of Israel as a whole rejected Him; so have too the gentile nations and peoples once the gospel is brought to them. For the gospel allows no flesh to glory in itself or to approach God and live: we must all – both Jews and gentiles from whatever nation or culture – be born again. When we are baptized, we acknowledge not only Jesus’ death for us and His resurrection, but also our own death in His death, and our own resurrection in His, that we may no longer live unto ourselves but rather unto God in holiness and righteousness. Therefore, there is continuity with our past life as unbelievers in that the Law and the prophecies are still being worked out fully; yet there is discontinuity in that we are alive in the reality of resurrection life, eternal life by the indwelling Holy Spirit –no longer under law but under grace. The Holy Spirit will fulfill in us the righteousness of the Law, which we establish by faith.
The gospel and new covenant are so contrary and transcendent to the natural man’s religion and intellect. Let’s consider just a few points regarding Israel, since God gave Israel as an example for the Church and to the world:
- The religious and political leaders (in whom the people were represented) claimed that Yeshua consistently broke the Sabbath regulations, even as He was manifesting the grace and mercies and compassion of God the Father towards others . (Mt 12:2,10; Mk 3:2; Lk 23:14; John 7:23; Is. 58)
- They claimed that He was demon-possessed and cast out demons by the power of Satan, even as He was bringing the reality of the Kingdom of God into their midst. (Mt 12:24; John 7:20; 10:19-20)
- They called Jesus a blasphemer because He claimed to be God’s Son, or that God was His Father, thus making Himself equal with God; they accused Him of blasphemy because He, as a man, forgave sins. (Mk 2:7; John 5:28; 10:31-39; cp. 1 Chron. 22:9-10)
- The meek shall inherit the earth, rather than the rich and mighty who trust in their wealth and power and wisdom. (Mt 5:5; 19:23-26; Jer 9:23)
- Many of the disciples themselves stopped following (walking with) Jesus when He spoke about eating His flesh and drinking His blood – a thought contrary to Israel’s law received from God. (John 6:66; Lev. 17:11-12; Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:18-20)
- The apostles themselves were scattered when the Shepherd was crucified. (Mt 26:31; Zech 13:7)
- Before knowing the Lord, did we see any beauty in Him that we desired Him? Did we not, each in our own way perhaps, despise and reject Him? Did we not consent to His death, assuming that there must have been some justification for it because of some sin of His own rather than for ours? Paul, as Saul, was a blasphemer and a persecutor of Yeshua (who was already exalted back in Heaven) through the believers, the Body of Messiah, while being himself a zealous and God-fearing Israeli! (Is 53; 1Tim 1:13; Gal 1:13; Acts 9:4-5)
- A new commandment has been given God’s elect: to love on the level of God’s love to us as shown and demonstrated through Jesus. (Mt 5:43-48; John 15:12)
Brothers and sisters, the Christian testimony of Jesus being the Messiah and the Son of God the Father is confessed by both Jews and Gentiles who have believed and obeyed this revelation. The gospel crosses every nation, culture, and language; the gospel brings Heaven’s rule and authority into the midst of the rule of the prince of this world’s power. Jesus came to bring a sword into the world and to give His peace to the believer. The church of the first-born includes all from Adam and Eve onward who have put their faith for salvation in the Creator God Almighty, who later revealed Himself as YEHOVAH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and still later as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The equality of Jews and Gentiles before God under the New Covenant in Christ is still difficult for both to accept and be reconciled to. The Jews wanted to stone Yeshua and, later, Paul when they spoke of their mission including gentiles. For about 15 years after the death and resurrection of the Lord and after Pentecost (Shavuot), the early church was Jewish in character. The Jews thought that all gentile believers had to become Jewish. The Holy Spirit and the council at Jerusalem declared otherwise in the wisdom of God. Later in Church history the opposite occurred: the non-Jewish believers thought that all Jewish believers had to become gentile, fitting the cultural norm wherever they were living.
The truth is that in Messiah God has made of the two one new man – one loaf representing Christ’s one body in unity. Today there is still a spiritual battle being fought to bring the Body of Christ to full maturity of the faith of the Son of God – comprised of both Jews and Gentile believers, but not being either quite Jewish or ethnic in character. Our unity in Messiah and our love for one another is our testimony in and to the world that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus and that God sent Him and loves us as our Father, even as He loved Jesus.
The gospel is God’s good news – offering peace on earth, goodwill towards mankind. Give thanks and praise His Name!